(WASHINGTON) — On Tuesday at 2:41 p.m., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., took the Senate floor to protest a government funding bill that funds President Obama’s signature health care reform law. He plans to talk — and talk — all afternoon and possibly all evening long.
“I intend to speak against Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand,” Cruz said.
But make no mistake: What Cruz is doing is not filibuster.
Cruz cannot block legislation. He doesn’t have enough support — even from his fellow Republicans. Most of his party has abandoned his effort to wage a filibuster, largely because of worries about shutting down the government. Senate rules dictate that the Senate must adjourn by noon on Wednesday. At that point, the Senate then will reconvene and start its cloture vote on the motion to proceed on the continuing resolution.
The Texas Republican can’t talk more than 15 hours, according to the Senate’s rules. Cruz’s aides won’t say how long he’ll speak, but one Republican leadership source suggested he might go on only long enough to reach the prime time audience on Fox News Channel.
So what happens from here? The Senate will go through a series of procedural votes, with a final vote expected on Sunday to keep the government running. Then, the bill goes back to the House, where the clock is ticking. The government runs out of money after Sept. 30.
Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., launched a filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Paul received some help from his colleagues who spoke for him, but he never left the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes, when finally nature called.
The longest speech on the Senate floor occurred in 1957, when Sen. Strom Thurmond filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
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